For most of my baking life I have had to do things to old-fashioned way. Frothing liquids together with a whisk, mixing cookie dough by hand (or with a spoon… or literally by hand) and even… gasp!…. kneading bread dough.
About 6 years ago I received an empire red KitchenAid stand mixer for Christmas. It was the best gift I could have asked for. And, since Gingerbread fest 2007 was about the commence and thought this would make life so much easier.
And it did.
I could have talked about my stand mixer the way men talk about cars.
That’s a lie.I could talk about it the way women talk about cars…or rather the way THIS woman talks about cars.
It was red.
It had a silver bowl.
It was shiny.
The tools were enamel
I was in love.
When I developed an interest in bread making, I tried at first to knead by hand and always ended up with flour bricks. But my KitchenAid, “Little Red” as I call him, always got the job done perfectly. Suddenly, cookies mixed themselves. Baked goods just magically started appearing on my counter. It was all too easy.
Something wasn’t quite right though… I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Little Red” had only one downfall, he couldn’t handle very much bread dough. As with all young love, I quickly forgot his faults. I had been eyeing a naan bread recipe. I got him all set up and started to knead the bread. About 3 minutes later smoke started billowing out of the machine and then the mixers just stopped! “Little Red” met his demise.
All of a sudden I was at a loss. Hand kneading? What?!
As I got my fingers in to the dough, I suddenly realized what was missing; the emotional connection to the baking. It was completely detached by machines. I realize that not everyone feels this way, but since I was little, baking has always been a way to relieve stress, to celebrate events, to connect with family, to share stories, to express myself.
Kneading this soft, gorgeous dough brought back floods of memories of my mom kneading bread in her big plastic tub, of my dad making pizza dough on cold, winter weekends, of getting out of homework time by offering to bake cookies, and of the countless hours spent in the kitchen together laughing and reconnecting.
Yes, the stand mixers are so insanely convenient, but I don’t bake out of convenience. I bake for the love of it and for the love of those I bake for.
- 1½ cups warm soy milk (or any other non-dairy milk of your choice)
- 1 TBSP oil
- ½ tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3½-4 cups all purpose flour
- Warm milk, sugar and oil in a small bowl. Milk should be warm to touch, not hot.
- Mix 3½ cups flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.
- Pour milk mixture on top of flour mixture.
- Mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
- Dump out on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes (or knead for 5 minutes in your mixer, no judgment here!)
- Sprinkle in more flour as needed to keep it from being too sticky. However, try not to use too much flour as you don't want a dry dough.
- Dough should become smooth and elastic at the end of the kneading.
- Let dough rise, covered, in a warm place for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
- Once risen, punch down dough and divide dough into 12 equal pieces and make each one into a smooth ball.
- Let dough balls rest, covered with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel, for 30 minutes.
- Heat a large frying pan on the stove over medium high heat until very hot.
- Roll out each piece of dough as thin as you can get them.
- Place dough in frying pan and cook (it will puff up) for 1-2 minutes or until top is starting to get small light brown spots. Flip.
- After another 1-2 minutes there should be dark brown spots on the bottom and the dough should look dry.
- Remove from pan and allow to cool!
BEN’S VERDICT (AKA A MEATEATER RESPONDS):
Am I the only one that has tears welling up for ‘Little Red’?
And is that a tiny bubble of fear breaking in me? Is the same thing is going to happen to me? I am going to be fed naan bread after naan bread until I too explode?
Luckily for me though, I would die with a smile on my face. I LOVE these chewy yummy morsels of bready goodness. I think it far more likely that Jen’s arms are worn down to stumps before my belly bursts.